The semi final rounds of the Monsoon Cup 2010 this morning decided the new ISAF Match Racing World Champion 2010.
Ben Ainslie and TEAMORIGIN – Iain Percy, Christian Kamp, Matthew Cornwell and Mike Mottl showed world-class match racing skill in the tricky conditions presented by the Terengganu River this morning, to win the coveted 2010 title.
Yesterday Ainslie, the triple Olympic Gold medallist, qualified second in the round robin of the Monsoon Cup and chose Richard as his opponent in the quarter finals. His strategy was simple – defeat Richard, the World Match Racing Tour leader and give TEAMORIGIN the best possible chance of winning the Championship. Ainslie did just that. He defeated Richard 3-1, however the World Championship still hung in the balance.
This morning Ainslie had to defeat his semi final opponent, Bjorn Hansen (Hansen Global Team) in the best of three matches to secure the title. Hansen is a dangerous opponent who has made a habit of knocking out round robin winners choosing to sail him. He did so to Chris Dickson in 2005 and again yesterday to Ian Williams (Team GAC Pindar). If Ainslie overcame Hansen, then to win the title he had to hope Mathieu Richard (French Match Racing Team), would not finish the Monsoon Cup in fifth place or higher.
Onto the semi-finals and in race 1 Ainslie and Hansen battled prestart, with a collision and then a penalty given against Hansen. Ainslie lead from the start, Hansen closed up the first leg but Ainslie and crew held on to win. Ainslie won the second start, Hansen completely botched up his timing and was at least three lengths behind Ainslie from the gun. Up the first beat Ainslie was higher and faster, 100 metres ahead and went on to win.
World Championship title hopes evaporated for Mathieu Richard. He was beaten in the sail-off for 5-8 by Francesco Bruni (Team Azzurra). Richard’s race began with a disastrous pre-start, his start line timing was wrong, he was painfully late and at the top mark was six lengths in arrears. Bruni won both races, laying to rest Richard’s last hope.
Never had Richard been so close to taking the title. The French skipper has been on the Tour since 2003-04 and his first victory was in 2007 at the Bermuda Gold Cup. Since then, Richard has been consistent and 2010 had been his best season with victories at Match Race France, Korea Match Cup, and St Moritz Match Cup. Top finishes allowed Richard to come into the Monsoon Cup with 105 points and the lead in the World Championship.
Ben Ainslie was however a very happy skipper. ‘We are delighted. A tough week. Our team – Iain did a really good job tactically, our crew work has been good. – a great way for TEAMORIGIN to go out.’ Iain Percy said ‘Ben being modest… we have not lost a start in last two days. We’ve all been in pressure situations before and we lift our game and the job get done.’
Ashore Ainslie continued. ‘The pre-starts went our way, again very difficult, the current was swirling, it was very shifty. The team did a magnificent job.
‘This is our last event as TEAMORIGIN and we now go our different ways, back to Olympic Sailing and other things, and we hope we will be back together on another occasion, but we are thrilled to have finished our time together as the ISAF World Match Racing Champions. Now our focus is the Monsoon Cup final.’
TEAMORIGIN progress to the Monsoon Cup final this afternoon against Torvar Mirsky (Mirsky Racing Team). MRT defeated Jesper Radich (Gaastra Racing Team) 2- 0 in the other semi final this morning.
In the Petite Final Bjorn Hansen will face Jesper Radich to decide the 3rd and fourth place at this year’s Monsoon Cup. In other races this morning for positions 5-8, Ian Williams (Team GAC Pindar) defeated Peter Gilmour (YANMAR Racing). It was over in the pre-start when Gilmour was black flagged.